The prebiotic synthesis of phosphorus-containing compounds—such as nucleotides and polynucleotides—would require both a geologically plausible source of the element and pathways for its incorporation into chemical systems on the primitive Earth. The mineral apatite, which is the only significant source of phosphate on Earth, has long been thought to be problematical in this respect due to its low solubility and reactivity. However, in the last decade or so, at least two pathways have been demonstrated which would circumvent these perceived problems. In addition, recent results would seem to suggest an additional, extraterrestrial source of reactive phosphorus. It appears that the ‘phosphorus problem’ is no longer the stumbling block which it was once thought to be.